Former President Donald Trump is calling to restore the service of military service members booted over the coronavirus vaccine.
Trump made the proposal Saturday in a speech at the conservative group Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida.
“We have to abolish all COVID mandates and lockdowns,” Trump said. “Rehire every patriot who was shamefully fired from the military, with an apology — we have to give them an apology. And all of their back pay.”
Trump’s speech is below. His comment about the military comes about the 1:10:30 mark.
Trump would be well-poised to deliver on this proposal if he’s elected to a second, non-consecutive term in the 2024 presidential election.
The former president has suggested he’s likely to run, with some polling showing Trump with a dominant lead in a tentative 2024 GOP primary.
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In the speech, Trump also criticized what he identified as “woke’” cultural policies targeting the military.
“You hear all about the woke stuff… I think a lot of our military laugh it off, but at some point it really gets in there, you get infected, and it’s bad,” he said (at about the 26:45 mark in the speech above).
Under President Joe Biden, the Department of Defense has mandated coronavirus vaccines, offering only hard-to-obtain religious and medical exemptions.
More than 60,000 Soldiers in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves alone have already been barred from their military duties over the mandate, according to Military.com.
In February, the Army announced it would begin separation proceedings for soldiers who outright refuse to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Soldiers in the process for a medical or religious exemption aren’t on the same timeline, although it’s no sure bet that they’ll be granted an exemption from vaccination.
Meanwhile, military recruiters are struggling to enlist enough Americans to properly staff the force.
In Saturday’s speech, just after pledging to end the military vaccine mandate, Trump also criticized the torrent of illegal immigration flowing over the border under Biden’s administration, describing the inflow of illegals crossing the border as an “invasion” and calling to reinstate his signature immigration enforcement policies.
However, Trump has emphasized that the vaccine should be voluntary, rather than mandatory.